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Michael Turner's Halloween: A Film Analysis Of The Slasher Film

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The “Slasher Film” has always been an iconic sub-genre of horror in American pop

culture. Initially slasher films don’t seem to break the barriers of American Cinema; they still

explore interesting aspects of the human psyche. Often we are thrown into the mind of our

psychotic murderer, and then forced to live out his ritualistic killings. John Carpenter’s

Halloween is a perfect example of a cliché slasher film. This film features some of the most

common conventions of the horror genre. It thrusts us into the life of Michael Myers, an

emotional stunted child who was raised in an insane asylum. It phallisizes the large knife that

Myers wields during his rampage against young adults in the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois.
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The story takes place in a small town in Illinois. We open with a flashback of

Myers’ early childhood. He is being babysat by his older sister, who happens to have a boyfriend

over to fool around with. After the boyfriend leaves, young Myers, with the knife he grabs from

the kitchen, proceeds to brutally murder his sister. This whole scene is done in one shot through

the point of view of Michael. We, as the audience, are being told the story through Michael’s

eyes. We feel the frustration he feels when he is denied the spectatorship of his sister fooling

around. We feel the abandonment he feels when the boyfriend leaves so soon after this sexual

encounter. We feel the neglect he feels when his sister doesn’t even notice he is nowhere to be

found. We leave this flashback with a painting-esque image of young Myers holding a bloody

knife as his late arriving parents stare at him motionless neglecting the fact that their daughter is

This story continues with Dr. Loomis, the psychologist examining Myers. He advises the

court to put him in a high security prison instead of a low security mental hospital. They
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As she sees nobody or nothing is there, she screams with fear.

Halloween is a film that continues to follow the typical horror genre conventions.

Thomas Schatz in his article Film Genre and the Genre Film puts the formula for a genre quite

simply: “A genre film, like virtually any story, can be examined in terms of its fundamental

narrative components: plot, setting, and character. These components have a privileged status for

the popular audience, due to their existence within a familiar formula that addresses and

reaffirms the audience’s values and attitudes” (695). With this, we can start to dissect the

components of Halloween to identify it as a slasher film. First off we need to define the slasher

genre. Here we can use the help of Carol Clover with her essay Her Body, Himself where she

briefly defines the slasher: “At the bottom of the horror heap lies the slasher film: the immensely

generative story of a psychokiller who slashes to death a string of mostly female victims, one by

one, until he is subdued or killed…” (21). Here we already have some of the elements of

Halloween such as: the psychokiller, a string of female murders (until we explore the
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